Gov. Edward G. Rendell Feb. 12 joined Vice President Joseph Biden on a tour of the Route 34 bridge in Cumberland County and discussed the kinds of bridge improvements that could move forward in Pennsylvania with enactment of the pending American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“Some of these bridges are as old as 80 years, are wearing out and need to be replaced as soon as possible,” Rendell said. “The national stimulus plan before Congress will allow these planned replacements to start immediately rather than a year or more from now.”
Pennsylvania has proposed $443 million in repairs or renovations to 428 bridges, work that creates an estimated 13,000 jobs, the governor reported to the vice president. The plan also calls for:
• $767 million in road resurfacing work on nearly 900 mi. of state-managed highways, creating an estimated 23,000 jobs;
• $161 million in congestion improvements, creating an estimated 5,000 jobs; and
• $138 million in safety improvements, creating an estimated 4,000 jobs.
“Our plan foresees $1.5 billion in work that would employ roughly 45,000 people, exactly the kind of goal that President Barack Obama set,” Rendell said. “These projects are ready to go and will make a huge difference for working families across Pennsylvania. There is not a moment to lose, and I urge Congress to settle its differences quickly and give Pennsylvania and the other states the means to carry forward with this urgently needed economic relief.”
Among the bridges on the Pennsylvania stimulus list highlighted by the governor was the Route 34 bridge over the Conodoguinet Creek in North Middletown Township, Cumberland County. Build in 1930, the bridge is a fracture critical, two-girder bridge with advanced corrosion. Fracture critical means that a failure in either of the girders would cause the bridge to collapse. On a scale of zero to 9, the deck is rated at 3; the superstructure, which supports the deck, 4; and the substructure, 6. PennDOT carefully maintains the bridge so as to avoid weight restrictions and any safety problems. A $1.8 million project to replace the bridge is scheduled to go to contract next year, but stimulus would allow the contract to be awarded in April.
“Though seemingly not very big, this bridge is very important to nearly 5,000 motorists a day and the national stimulus plan will allow us to get started with the replacement,” Rendell said.
He noted that the stimulus plan will dovetail with his Rebuild Pennsylvania Program, which is accelerating work on bridges. In this fiscal year, PennDOT has committed to beginning work on 411 structurally deficient bridges. Rendell proposed in his 2009-10 budget address on Feb. 4 a second phase in which work on another 367 bridges will begin in the fiscal year starting in July. The governor’s goal announced last year was for PennDOT to start work on 1,145 bridges over a three-year span.
“We in Pennsylvania certainly have not been sitting on our hands in the face of our daunting bridge challenges,” Rendell said. “We welcome the stimulus plan for the benefits it will pay for our hard working families and the additional gains it will allow us to make as we prepare our highway and bridge system for the future.”